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Seoul to commemorate memorial day for 'comfort women'

All News 10:14 August 14, 2020

SEOUL, Aug. 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will hold various events to mark the international memorial day on Friday for Asian women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II.

The government-led national ceremony marking the International Memorial Day for Comfort Women will take place at the Hill of National Commemoration in Cheonan, south of Seoul, with the slogan of memory for the future.

About 100 people, including elderly Korean women sexually enslaved by the imperial Japanese army, will participate in the event, with President Moon Jae-in to deliver a video message.

During the ceremony, the government will also mark the opening of a digital archive that stores more than 500 files of documents and materials on "comfort women," a euphemistic term for the former sex slaves. The online depository includes reports by the United Nations forces during the Korean War and official statements by the Japanese government.

It is the third time that the government has hosted a national ceremony commemorating the day since 2018, when it was designated a national memorial day.

The International Memorial Day for Comfort Women falls on Aug. 14, the day when the late Kim Hak-sun, a former comfort woman, first publicly testified about Japan operating an organized military brothel program during the war in 1991.

It is also the eve of Liberation Day, which marks the end of the 1910-1945 Japanese colonial era.

According to historians, up to 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were coerced into sexual servitude in front-line Japanese brothels when the Korean Peninsula was a Japanese colony.

"The International Memorial Day for Comfort Women is the day that we remind ourselves that we are witnesses of history," Lee Jung-ok, minister of gender equality and family, said in a release. "I hope that we remember the sorrow and contributions of comfort women and help our young generation be aware of it."

Busts of late victims of sexual slavery by the Japanese military are displayed at the House of Sharing, a facility dedicated to "comfort women," in the city of Gwangju, located outside Seoul, on Aug. 13, 2020, one day ahead of the International Memorial Day for Comfort Women. In 2018, South Korea established the memorial day to remember victims of sex crimes committed by Japan during World War II. (Yonhap)

brk@yna.co.kr
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